Sunday, May 15, 2011

Diminutive Chairs (God Bless the Children)

 The chair is of extreme antiquity,although for many centuries and indeed for thousands of years it was an article of State , rather than an article of ordinary use. The chair is still extensively used as an emblem of authority in Britian. It was not, in fact,until the 16th century that it became common anywhere. The number of chairs from earlier dates is exceedingly limited. Mostly in museums.
   In ancient Egypt chairs appear to have been great richness and splendour. Fashioned of ebony and ivory or of carved gilded wood, they were covered in costly, rare materials and supported upon legs of beast or figures.
   Greek and Roman chairs dates back to the 6th and 7th century BCE. Exambles can be found carved on the frieze of the Parthenon.These chairs were mostly carved from marble. The oldest know is the chair of St.Peter in the St.Peters church in Rome.

 Chinese chairs before the Tang Dynasty(618-907 AD) were not in existance. The predominant setting position was the lotus position on the floor. A remarkable change happened during the Tang period. A small mobile  folding stool developed into a more stationary stately chair with a high back.After that the chair was common in all of China.High back chairs are still in high use in China today.
   In Europe, it was owing in great measure to the Renaissance that the chair ceased to be a privilege  of the State and became available to anyone who could afford to buy a chair or had the skill to make one.  By the 17th century wood chairs in Britian were common. Fabric and leather soon were used to cover and make the chairs more comfortable.
  English chairs came into there own during the Tudor period.  During Charles II's reign they became the most decorative. During the reign of  William and Mary, the chair form became more solid and rigid.Makers like, Hepplewhite,Sheraton,Adams and Chippendale all left there  ever lasting mark on English chair design.
    18th century chairs are when the French took over. The French Rocco   style soon became the rage, with caberiole legs, carved backs and open arms. The bergere chair was also born in Louis XIV France.
   19th century chairs are when the Art Nouveau school produced chairs of simplicity with a movement like no other style before or since. Arts and Crafts  movement produced heavy,straight ,minimally ornamental chairs.
   American chairs: Rocco Revival,  Gothic and Empire  Revival and Eastlake, are  the names that come to mind. Makers like John Henry Belter brought these forms to all all time height and for the first time an American chair maker was considered as important as one from Europe. The Rocco chair was the American version of the French Louis XVI. Bigger in scale and heavier- but very much the same lines.
   Every maker and ever period since the Roman Empire have made Diminutive or children's chairs. One early example was  found in the Sun King's tomb in Egypt. Also known as the child King as he took the throne at the age of 9. The French especially, were  known for it's children's chairs. Some times whole sets were made and thrones were copied for the Heir apparent. Louis XVI was one who did this and the exambles are on display today.

    Most of my children's chairs are more fun than rare and not extremely valuable. I have always been attracted to them and seem to want every one I see. I have them  all about the house-usually in the way, I often fall over them. I love them anyhow. I have 2 very good ones. One is a American Gothic Revival and the other is a high Victorian .Both are made in America of walnut and from the early to middle 1800's. My little  great nieces and nephews love to set in my small chairs. I often catch the adults in them as well. They are usually very strong and can hold up well. But the two special ones, I always say, no-no!
    I  am also sharing several pictures from the garden as spring continues in Missouri. It is one of my favorite times. After a long hard winter it is much appreciated.
   I hope you enjoy my little kids chairs and maybe someday you can come by for a tour and see them in person. I will leave the lights on and Sissy Dog will meet you with a jump and a kiss.

My Sissy Dog, always with me and always a friend. 

I hate to sound like a broken record, but I can't seem to help myself. I am so proud of the fact that , My Old Historic House, is featured in this issue of Victorian Homes Magazine. Please go to the news stands and get a copy. If you like it, let the editor know.Editor-Hilary Black at

My Old Historic House during the great flood of 2008, Mississippi River, Clarksville,Mo.